‘Up and Down’ the Iowa Golf Scene – Standard Golf’s roots run deep
Standard Golf Capitalizes on its Iowa Heritage to Become a Leading Global Golf Provider
Cedar Falls-based Standard Golf Company features a success story that only those with Iowa roots can fully appreciate. In 1910, Standard Manufacturing Company launched a business producing steel farm gates and a range of related agricultural products, including automatic hog waterers. Today, more than 110 years later, the company has transformed into the world’s most complete manufacturer and distributor of golf course accessories, offering more than 4,000 unique and innovative products for golf courses across six continents.
“We manufacture, sell and distribute anything and everything that a golf course superintendent needs to get their courses ready for play,” said Matt Pauli, Standard’s Vice President and Director of Marketing. “And our roots are clearly deep within Iowa’s agriculture heritage and closely aligned with the customs, traditions, and work ethic of everyday Iowans. The basic mold used in the classic golf ball washer was the same mold we used decades ago to make the hog waterer for farmers.”
Pauli, a Michigan native, joined Standard Golf in 2014 following a 15-year career in sales and marketing in the Chicago area. He met his wife, Lory, a Denver, IA native in downtown Chicago as they were watching their respective alma maters, the University of Michigan, and the University of Iowa, play football.
Hundreds of thousands of golfers use Standard’s products multiple times over the course of a round of golf – and likely do not even know it. “The average golfer probably doesn’t realize the depth and breadth of our products – but the superintendents, PGA professionals, driving range owners, general managers, customers and others responsible for equipping a course sure do,” Pauli stated.
Standard Golf’s catalog of products includes its bread-and-butter staples such as ball washers, bunker rakes, club washers, cups, driving range products, flags and flagsticks, signs, tee markers and yardage markers. The lineup also includes divot mix caddies and storage, fixtures and benches, hole cutters and shells, marking paint, rope and chain stakes, spike cleaners, trash containers, and water stations, among many others.
Each major accessory is offered with multiple styles, colors and options, designed to suit various needs and budgets. For example, Standard features six styles of bunker rakes along with various handle lengths and material to include wood, aluminum, and composite. The result is what manufacturers label as SKU’s (stock keeping units) that compound across the product line to total more than 4000 accessories, course maintenance tools, customized products and parts.
Standard’s pedigree in the business is well documented. The company provides flags for three of the four major championships, for the Ryder Cup and Solheim Cup, as well as for the vast majority of the United States Golf Association’s nearly 100 championships. And it has a core business remains the golf course superintendent and local golf course.
“We provide products to courses in all 50 states, 206 countries and across six continents,” said Pauli. “We have 250 distributors and added a warehouse in The Netherlands so we can deliver products to customers in Europe within five days.”
The proud Iowa company was founded in 1910 by Walter K. Voorhees and a handful of local Cedar Falls businessmen. About 15 years later, golf equipment was added to the product line and this formula continued for decades. In 1971, the agricultural and miscellaneous lines of business were sold, transitioning to a sole focus on golf. Robert Voorhees and Maynard Voorhees (sons of Walter) assumed control of the company as the second generation, followed by Robert’s son, Peter Voorhees, who served as President until 2018, when the three-generation family business was sold to employees, making it a 100 percent employee-owned firm. Peter Voorhees continues service as chairman of the board, and Scott Hottle assumed the role of President. One of the core tenants of the company is being a good corporate citizen. Standard Golf and the Vorhees Family Foundation made a generous commitment to the Golf House Iowa project.
Innovation, old fashioned work ethic and nimble manufacturing capabilities are characteristics that have served the company well throughout periodic challenges. In 1992, a fire destroyed the original building on East Fourth Street in Cedar Falls. Six months later, a new 75,000 square foot facility opened in the Cedar Falls Industrial Park, where it operates today. In 2020, the industry was turned upside down with the global pandemic.
“I remember attending the 2020 PGA Show in Orlando, and just a few weeks later, Covid-19 exploded, and everything came to a grinding halt,” Pauli said. “We had virtually no sales for about three months. But then our engineers, product developers and staff came together and developed the no touch golf products that hit the market within a few months and helped courses stay open. In fact, golf got a huge shot in the arm during the pandemic, things quickly rebounded and so many new people were introduced to the game.”
The National Golf Foundation estimates there are 25 million “traditional” golfers playing at least nine holes in 2022, and some 40 million when the off-course playing – simulators, public driving ranges – are factored in. A record 529 million rounds were played in 2021, a five percent boost from the Covid surge of the previous year. that some 33 million rounds were played in 2021, up appreciably from 2019 and 2020 figures. Pauli and those interested in growing the golfing public hope that many of the new golfers remain interested in the game.
As for the future, Pauli maintains that Standard is well positioned to again adapt to changes and provide new and innovative products for its customers. “We’ll continue to find new ways to assist golf course superintendents and driving range operators to make their work easier and the enhance the experience of all golfers.”
“Up and Down” the Iowa Golf Scene
A regular feature column written by IGA Foundation board member Mark Gambaiana, Up and Down the Iowa Golf Scene is designed to take the reader beyond the headlines and scoreboards to share stories of those who help make Iowa golf so rich and rewarding. Profiles will spotlight those who advance the game through volunteerism, service, extraordinary achievement, competition, human interest and the many other dimensions of golf in Iowa.
Click the links below to read previous Up and Down features
– IGA Rules Official Sean Flanders
– R&A, USGA Champion Gene Elliott
– Nervig Reflects on Decades of Service to The Iowa Masters
– Arseneault Finds Fulfillment in Life’s Next Chapter After Competitive Golf
– Ivan Miller remembers the days of the Minnows
– Kinney adjusts to life on tour